Silicon Valley TV

What inspires you at End of the Day?

Inspiration on a chalkboard

The estimated reading time for this post is 3 seconds

I happened to see this great animated video during the week which is well worth 10minutes of your time to watch.  To summarize some of his point is that if there is just a rudimentary cognitive skill that higher monetary rewards leads to poorer performance.  If you want engagement, self direction is better.

At the end of the day what inspires or motivates you to be in business?  We may all have different responses to this question: money, desire to make a difference, express creative drive, have fun, solve problems.  I was inspired reading Randy Komisar’s book ‘The Monk and the Riddle: The Art of Creating a Life While Making a Living’ as he reiterates my own philosophy & values in business:

Business is one of the last remaining social institutions to help us manage & cope with change.  The Church is in decline in the developed world, ceding leadership to a materialism of unprecedented proportions.  City Hall is subservient to the economic interest of its constituencies.  That leaves business.  Business, however, has a tendency to become tainted with the greed & aggressiveness that at its best it channels into productivity.  Left to its single-minded pseudo-Darwinian devices, it may never deliver the social benefits that the other fading institutions once promised.  But rather than give up on business, I look to it as a way, indirectly, of improving things for many, not just a lucky few.  I accept its limitations & look for opportunities to use it positively.  In the US, the rules of business are like the laws of physics, neither inherently good nor evil, to be applied as you may.  You decide whether your business is constructive or destructive.

Fred Wilson over at his blog AVC musings of a VC in NYC had a post last week ‘How We Measure Success’ in speaking about what they look for in startups that indicates success to their company:

At USV we do focus on financial metrics, but our number one goal for our companies is to build very large networks of engaged users. We believe if they do that, they will build value for themselves and us.
So that is how we measure success first and foremost. We believe very large networks of engaged users will ultimately create significant financial value for everyone involved.

He spoke about Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror’s post ‘The Vast and Endless Sea’ where he spoke about why he had co-founded Stack Overflow:

I co-founded it because I wanted to build something cool that made the internet better. Yes, selfishly for myself, of course, but also in conjunction with all of my fellow programmers, because I know none of us is as dumb as all of us.
Nobody is participating in Stack Overflow to make money. We’re participating in Stack Overflow because …
* We love programming
* We want to leave breadcrumb trails for other programmers to follow so they can avoid making the same dumb mistakes we did
* Teaching peers is one of the best ways to develop mastery
* We can follow our own interests wherever they lead
* We want to collectively build something great for the community with our tiny slices of effort
I don’t care how much you pay me, you’ll never be able to recreate the incredibly satisfying feeling I get when demonstrating mastery within my community of peers. That’s what we do on Stack Overflow: have fun, while making the internet one infinitesimally tiny bit better every day.

I remember someone saying to me when I was young, make sure that you work at something you enjoy & in which you are interested as you will spend most of your life at work.  I reiterated this when raising my 3 kids, when they were pressured by High School to make life changing decisions about what careers they would do at the ripe old age of 13.  Of course I complained to the school that they shouldn’t be pressured to make those type of big decisions when they had no life experience or wisdom or self knowledge with which to make an informed choice.  But I also said to my kids that they should enjoy their work, that it was important to earn a living but feeling passionate & engaged was even more important.

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